Newtown tragedy leads to review of crisis and safety guidelines

While the school district updates and revises its safety protocol each year with the help of the local police department, the December school shooting in Newtown, CT, has heightened awareness of school security. In response, Principal David Heisey, Ed.D., stressed to students and faculty the importance of following safety procedures in a lockdown situation, such as when an intruder is in the building. Students were reminded to turn off cellphones, to remain quiet, to follow instructions, and, if alone in the hallway, to go to the nearest safe place.
At a faculty meeting in April, Capt. Brian Donnelly of the Scotch Plains Police presented a video of a dramatized school shooting to illustrate the reasons for the lockdown rules and to show what the police would be doing to find and stop the shooter in such a scenario.
General school security procedures now include closing the interior gates earlier and requiring teachers to gather students and record attendance during evacuation drills. “The overall goal is to create a safe environment for our students and staff,” said Heisey.
According to Superintendent of Schools Margaret Hayes, Ed.D., safety improvements to facilities and training for students and personnel will be ongoing to ensure best practices.